Japanese suppliers in U.S. and Canada: Expansion responses to OEM growth

Activities of Denso, Hitachi, IHI, JTEKT, Panasonic, Kasai Kogyo, H-one, and others

2015/03/24

Summary

米国の年次生産台数 This report summarizes the activities, including the enhancement of production capacities and production of new products, of Japanese parts suppliers in the U.S. and Canada in the eleven months up to mid-February 2015.

 U.S. vehicle sales in 2014 were 16.52 million vehicles (passenger cars and light-duty trucks), up 5.9% year-over-year (y/y). Sales also continued to expand in January and February 2015 and marked an increase of 9.2% y/y to 2.41 million units. 2015 vehicle sales  are forecasted at 17 million units (Please click here for vehicle sales forecast in the U.S. by LMC Automotive.).

 Automobile (passenger car and light-duty truck) production in the U.S. also expanded in 2014 to 11.36 million units, up 5.1% y/y. Production in January 2015 increased by 1.4% y/y to 882,000 units.

 Production volume by Japanese OEMs in 2014 showed a steady growth of 5.1% y/y to 3.82 million units. Each Japanese OEM is aiming to enhance its production capacity in North America to meet growing sales in the U.S. At the same time, European and U.S. automakers are placing more orders to Japanese parts suppliers.


 In line with these movements, Japanese suppliers are also enhancing their production capacities and sales activities. In particular, many suppliers are expanding their production capacities and launching new products that help reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel efficiency to comply with tighter fuel efficiency regulations. Meanwhile, some suppliers are starting local production of components that was imported from Japan as well as localization of a pre-process. Others are starting production of components that comply with safety/environmental regulations or for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Fields Type of investment Suppliers Products (* new products)
Weight reduction,
fuel efficiency improvement
Expansion of facilities
and production lines
IHI Turbo chargers
Aisin Chemical Wet friction materials for automatic transmissions (ATs)
H-One, F-Tech, and Topre Ultra-high-tensile materials
G-Tekt Hot stamping parts utilizing a new weight-reduction technology
Ahresty Aluminum die-casting
Kobe Steel Forged aluminum parts
Toyoda Iron Works Insulators using aluminum alloy
Denso Fuel pumps for gasoline direct-injection engines*
Toyota Industries Variable-displacement type compressors for car air-conditioning
NSK Electric power steering (EPS) systems
Mitsubishi Rayon Carbon fiber
Japan Polypropylene and Mitsui Chemicals Polypropylene
New companies/plants Asahi Kasei Resin compounds
Kobe Steel Aluminum panels/heat exchangers
JTEKT and Hitachi Automotive Systems EPS systems
Pacific Industrial Ultra-high-tensile material processing
Univance Continuously variable transmission (CVT) pulleys and all-wheel drive (AWD) transfer cases
Safety/environmental
regulation compliance
New plant Sekisui Plastics Shock absorbers, such as Piocelan
New company Daicel Replacement inflators*
Existing company Nisshinbo Brake Brake pads using non-asbestos organic*
Hybrid/electric vehicles New company Panasonic Lithium-ion battery cells*
Converting joint venture (JV) to subsidiary Ube Industries Electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries*


 Regarding business reinforcement, Kasai Kogyo and TS Tech are enhancing their headquarters functions in North America while MC Systems and Hitachi Metals are acquiring local companies. Other activities include business takeover by Denki Kagaku Kogyo from a U.S. company and consolidation of local subsidiaries by JVC Kenwood and The Yokohama Rubber.

 In the area of research and development (R&D) enhancement, H-One and Nippon Seiki are expanding their development centers, while Bridgestone has started operations at its research center for natural rubber. The Yokohama Rubber is planning to establish a development center in the U.S.


Japanese suppliers Related Reports:

* China (Part 1): Southern, Central and Southwestern regions (Jan. 2015),
  China (Part 2): East/North/Northeast regions and overview (Feb. 2015)
* India (Nov. 2014)
* Mexico: New plants built to satisfy OEM demand (Oct. 2014),
  Mexico and Brazil: Expanding capacity for local demand (Oct. 2014)
* Thailand (Sep. 2014)
* Indonesia (Jun. 2014), Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, and Myanmar (Jun. 2014)
* Europe (Jul. 2014), the U.S. (Apr. 2014)



U.S.: Establishment/expansion of plants by IHI, Asahi Kasei, F-Tech, Kobe Steel, and others

Company Activities
IHI
To enhance production capacity for turbo chargers
By 2016, IHI will increase the production volume of automotive turbo chargers at IHI Turbo America Co. in Illinois to 300,000 units per year. The company will invest JPY 1 billion to establish a new assembly line. The company decided on the expansion because of new orders from Volkswagen (VW) for small-sized, high-efficiency gasoline engines for passenger cars. These engines will be produced at VW's new engine plant, which will be established in Mexico. Core components will be imported from IHI's plant in Thailand and assembled into finished products in the U.S. The company will also start producing superchargers for Chrysler's large passenger cars.
Aisin Chemical
Enhancing production capacity of friction materials for ATs
In the fiscal year ending in March 2015 (FY 2014), Aisin Chemical is investing JPY 2.2 billion in Aisin Chemical Indiana, LLC in Indiana to construct a new dedicated plant. The new plant will be located in the premises of its existing plant and will start operations in 2016. The expansion will increase the company's monthly production capacity for wet friction materials for ATs from 1 million units in FY 2013 to 2 million units. At its existing U.S. plant, Aisin Chemical is also starting production of friction materials that have previously been exported from Japan to reduce cost.
Asahi Kasei
To construct second resin compound plant and start operations in 2016
Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc. in Michigan will construct its second resin compound plant in Alabama. JPY 3 billion will be invested and operations will start in early 2016. Annual production capacity will be 30,000 tons. The new plant will produce functional resin compounds by mixing and kneading polypropylene, polyamide, and other resins with glass fibers and flame retardants. The new plant will increase the company's total production capacity in the U.S. to 135,000 tons per year.
Ahresty
Promoting production efficiency improvement, engineer retraining, and facility expansion
To meet increasing demand for aluminum die-cast parts, Ahresty Wilmington Corporation in Ohio doubled its production volume in FY 2013 from the FY 2011 level. As the increase further continued in the first half of 2014, production problems and labor costs have also increased. As a result, the company expected that it would run a deficit in FY 2014. To address this situation, Ahresty set an improvement plan and started relevant activities to reinforce its revenue base from October 2014. The activities include productivity improvement, training of workers to enhance their skills, retraining of engineers (including trainers), and facility expansion to improve plant flow.
H-One
Enhancing production capacities at three plants in North America and introducing press machine for ultra-high-tensile materials
In FY 2014, H-One has installed four press machines in three of its plants in North America to support Honda's plan to increase production. At KTH Parts Industries, Inc. in Ohio, a 3,000-ton servo transfer press machine has been installed and it will start producing ultra-high-tensile materials in July 2015. Two press machines have been installed at Kalida Manufacturing, Inc. in Ohio and one press machine at KTH Shelburne Manufacturing, Inc. in Ontario, Canada. They started operations in January 2015. In total, JPY 3.6 billion has been invested in this project. The company is also investing more to introduce a fully automated production line and comply with the new crash safety standard.
F-Tech
To introduce servo press machine to meet needs for weight reduction; aims to expand customer base as well
In 2015, F-Tech will introduce a high-performance, 3,000-ton transfer servo press machine to the plant of F&P America Mfg., Inc. in Ohio. The machine will be used to produce ultra-high-tensile materials that will satisfy needs for reducing vehicle weight. The plant's production capacity will be doubled by this new second large press machine.
 Meanwhile, F-Tech is introducing a road simulator to its U.S. development center in Ohio, F-Tech R&D North America Inc., in FY 2014. The simulator can reproduce driving conditions that are very similar to actual driving conditions. An example is a testing device that applies load to a vehicle as if it is driving on a rough road. The company aims to develop and supply suspension systems, instead of individual parts, to expand businesses with European and U.S. automakers. Several 10 millions of Japanese yen will be invested and the company aims to start production in 2017 or 2018. F-Tech is seeking a development partner among European and U.S. suppliers.
 At F&P Georgia, a division of F&P America Mfg., Inc. in Georgia, the company started producing pedals for Renault-Nissan Alliance's first Common Module Family (CMF) models in 2014. The CMF is a scheme for the two automakers to share components. F-Tech is supplying these pedals mainly to Nissan's plants in the U.S.
Oiles
To enhance production capacity and employment/training of workers to increase sales ratio of non-Japanese OEMs
Oiles aims to raise the sales ratio of non-Japanese OEMs in its bearing business from more than 10% in FY 2014 to 40% in FY 2019. To achieve this goal, the company plans to enhance the production capacities at its plants in the U.S., Thailand, and other countries. Oiles also plans to enhance the employment and training of workers involved in engineering and sales.
Okaya
Expanding plant building and production line to produce more muffler parts
Okaya will increase the production of muffler components at Okaya Shinnichi Corp. of America in North Carolina. By spring 2015, the company will expand the floor area of the plant by 40% and install an additional cutting line for muffler steel pipes, resulting in eight lines in total. Next, Okaya also considers installing an additional pre-processing line where steel sheets are rolled into pipes. Investment is expected to reach one hundred and several ten millions of Japanese yen. The company aims to increase its sales by more than 10% from the recent JPY 2 billion.
Katayama Kogyo
To introduce automatic assembly process for door sashes to Kentucky plant
Katayama Kogyo will construct a new plant building next to the existing plant of Katayama American Co., Inc. in Kentucky to increase the production of door sashes. The company decided on the expansion to meet new orders from Chrysler for its fully redesigned models (250,000 vehicles annually) as well as for Japanese OEMs. The new plant will go into production in June 2016 with an investment of JPY 2.5 billion.
Kobe Steel
Expands production capacity at aluminum forging plant; to establish new company for aluminum sheet materials
In August 2014, Kobe Steel completed the expansion work at Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, LLC in Kentucky. The expansion work was conducted to increase its capacity to produce forged aluminum components for suspensions. USD 66 million was invested to increase the monthly production capacity from 280,000 units to 420,000 units. Through the expansion, Kobe Steel aimed to address the recent production condition of the plant, which was operating at full capacity. The company also intended to satisfy the growing demands from Japanese, U.S., and European OEMs that aim to comply with tighter fuel consumption regulations expected in 2025.
 In May 2014, Kobe Steel and Toyota Tsusho announced that they were considering  establishing a JV, which will produce aluminum sheets for automotive body panels and heat exchangers. Regarding the procurement of the master coils to make the aluminum sheet, Kobe Steel is currently in talks with an aluminum sheet producer for beverage and food cans in Alabama, Wise Alloys, LLC. The JV's plant is expected to be located near the producer in the southern U.S. and will start operations in 2017.
JTEKT
To start producing newly developed EPS systems in Japan and U.S.
In the first half of 2016, JTEKT plans to start producing its newly developed EPS systems in Japan. The new EPS system is designed for midsize and larger vehicles. Production in the U.S. will start at JTEKT Automotive Tennessee-Vonore LLC in the first half of 2016. The new EPS system is smaller and lighter, but as powerful as the company's conventional systems. The EPS systems will be supplied to OEMs both in Japan and abroad.
 Meanwhile, JTEKT expanded the plant of Koyo Bearings North America LLC in South Carolina to introduce a new production line. In July 2014, the capacity to produce hub units was doubled, with an investment of USD 1.3 million.
G-Tekt
Starting to produce hot-stamped components in 2015 based on new lightweight technology
In March 2015, G-Tekt started producing hot-stamped components in its new plant built within the premises of G-Tekt North America Corporation in Ohio. The company's new technology was used to create these components, which feature higher strength and lighter weight than ultra-high-tensile materials. USD 30 million has been invested in this project. While supplying this product to Honda's plants in the U.S., G-Tekt also aims to receive orders from other OEMs. G-Tekt expects sales of USD 64 million in FY 2016.
Showa
To consolidate production of EPS systems into its plant in Mexico
Showa will consolidate production of EPS systems in North America into its new plant in Mexico. At present, the company produces pinion type EPS systems for midsize and small vehicles at the Blanchester plant of American Showa, Inc. in Ohio and Showa Canada Inc. in Ontario. The production will be transferred gradually to Showa Autoparts Mexico, S.A. de C.V. in Guanajuato, which will start operations in July 2015. The transfer is in line with the changeover by its major customer, Honda, to Showa's new dual-pinion type EPS systems. The plants in the U.S. and Canada will continue to produce hydraulic power steering systems and other related components.
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal
Innovating steel plate plant acquired from ThyssenKrupp of Germany
Since the end of April 2014, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal (NSSMC) has dispatched 15 experienced engineers, such as former plant and division managers, from Japan to AM/NS Calvert LLC in Alabama. The Alabama plant was acquired jointly with ArcelorMittal from ThyssenKrupp of Germany. After improving the existing facilities, NSSMC will transform the plant into a state-of-the-art plant and enhance the supply capacity to meet the growing market demand for automotive steel sheets in the southern U.S.
Sugiura Manufacturing
Expands nut plant to double production capacity
In fall 2014, Sugiura Manufacturing expanded the plant of Sunright America, Inc. in Indiana to add a production line. Through the expansion, the plant's capacity to produce nuts was doubled to 100 million units per month. In spring 2015, more lines will be added for heat treatment and plating to consolidate production processes in the U.S. as well as to reduce lead time and distribution cost. JPY 1 billion is being invested in this project. The company plans to support a wider variety of vehicle types, such as sedans and sports utility vehicles (SUVs). In addition to Toyota, Sugiura Manufacturing aims to receive orders from other Japanese OEMs.
Sekisui Plastics
Establishing new plant to produce molded Piocelan products
In December 2014, Sekisui Plastics announced that Sekisui Plastics U.S.A., Inc. in Tennessee will construct a new plant in Ohio. The plant will be engaged in molding, processing, designing, and quality assurance of Piocelan and polystyrene foam. In July 2015, the plant will start operations to supply products to Japanese OEMs operating in North America. The company will also enhance its activities to win orders from U.S. automakers. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 18,000 tons. USD 6 million is being invested in this project.
Daicel
To establish second plant for airbag inflators
Daicel will establish its second inflator plant in the Americas. The new plant is planned to be located next to Special Devices Inc. in Arizona, which the company acquired in 2012. Daicel will start production at the new plant and sales of the products from the plant at the end of FY 2015. Initially, Daicel had planned to construct a new plant between FY 2017 and in FY 2018, but has advanced the plan to address the shortage of replacement inflators caused by Takata's recall. Investment is expected to reach JPY 10 billion. At the same time, the company is enhancing the capacity at its sales base in Michigan, Polyplastics USA Inc., to meet customers' requests more promptly.
Daido Kogyo
Starts operations at automotive engine chain plant in July 2014
In July 2014, Daido Kogyo started operations at the first automotive engine chain plant of Daido Corporation of America in Tennessee. This is the company's first plant in North America. USD 4.3 million was invested to establish an annual production capacity of 950,000 meters. The sales from its automotive operations in North America are expected to be USD 5 million in 2014, USD 15 million in 2015, and USD 18 million in 2016.
Pacific Industrial
Establishes second plant in North America; to develop processing capacity for ultra-high-tensile materials
In June 2014, Pacific Industrial established its second plant in North America, Pacific Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc. The plant will start producing stamped and resin parts in August 2015. Then, in December 2015, a 3,000-ton transfer press machine will be introduced and the plant will start producing ultra-high-tensile materials with a tensile strength of 1,180 MPa.
Taiho Kogyo
To establish new production lines for plastic-coated engine bearings
Taiho Kogyo will increase the global production of plastic-coated engine bearings, which help improve fuel efficiency, from 47 million units in FY 2013 to 70 million units by FY 2015. To achieve this goal, the company will increase the number of production lines for this product in Japan from seven to ten and establish three such lines at Taiho Corporation of America in Ohio. This will be the first time for the company to establish production lines for plastic-coated bearings outside Japan. In the U.S. alone, the company will invest JPY 450 million in this project. Taiho Kogyo has received new orders from Honda and General Motors (GM), in addition to Toyota, its existing customer. By FY 2016, the company will increase the number of production lines in the U.S. to five.
Denso
To expand U.S. plant to produce gasoline direct-injection products
Denso will expand the plant of Denso Manufacturing Athens Tennessee, Inc. by 40%, with an investment of USD 85 million. In July 2016, the plant will start producing fuel pumps for gasoline direct-injection engines. The company will increase the capacity to produce injectors for direct-injection engines as well.
Toa Industries
Establishing new plant building to enhance production capacity for body parts
Toa Industries is constructing a new building at the plant of Toa (USA), LLC. in Indiana to enhance the capacity to produce body and suspension parts by 50%. This decision was made to meet the production increase in the U.S. by its leading customer, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), which is a maker of Subaru automobiles.
Togo Seisakusyo
Approved as hose clamp supplier for first time by U.S. OEM
At the end of 2013, Togo Seisakusyo was approved as a supplier of hose clamps, its flagship product, for the first time by a U.S. automaker. The approval was given through Quality Spring/Togo, Inc. in Michigan and the company received orders for the first time from a U.S. OEM. The approval enables the company to take part in competitions for new projects that the OEM has been promoting worldwide. Previously, the company's U.S. businesses were limited to those with Toyota and major suppliers in the Toyota group.
Topre
To make additional investment to expand production capacity for body frame parts
In February 2015, Topre announced that it will make an additional investment in two body frame parts plants in the U.S. and Mexico. At Topre America Corporation, the U.S. plant in Alabama, the company is constructing a 12,000-square-meter building on a newly acquired site. A large press machine capable of processing high-tensile steel will be installed in the plant. JPY 5 billion will be invested in this project. Topre plans to increase the sales at this U.S. plant from JPY 30 billion in 2013 to JPY 40 billion by 2016.
Toyo Tire & Rubber
Receives orders from Ford for pickup trucks; to establish new production line in spring 2015
In July 2014, Toyo Tire & Rubber announced that its tires for SUVs had been selected by Ford as original-equipment tires for pickup trucks. It is the first time for the company to supply original-equipment tires to a U.S. automaker. The tires are produced at Toyo Tire North America Manufacturing Inc. in Georgia. A new production line at the plant is expected to start operations in spring 2015 as the fourth phase of the company's production capacity enhancement plan. On a passenger car tire basis, the plant will produce rubbers for 9 million tires. In the future, the company also considers constructing a plant on a new site.
Toyota Industries
Enhancing capacity to produce variable-displacement type compressors for car air-conditioning
Toyota Industries is increasing production of energy-saving variable-displacement type compressors for car air-conditioning at its two U.S. plants, TD Automotive Compressor Georgia, LLC. and Michigan Automotive Compressor, Inc. The increase is to meet growing demand caused by the tighter fuel efficiency regulation. The company plans to increase the combined annual capacity of the two plants by 500,000 units from the FY 2013 level to 5.2 million units within FY 2014. The investment amount is yet to be released. At Toyota Industries Compressor Parts America, Co. in Georgia, the company plans to produce 6 million units of variable-displacement type compressor parts in FY 2014.
Toyoda Iron Works
Planning to produce aluminum alloy heat insulators
Around 2016, Toyoda Iron Works plans to start producing aluminum alloy heat insulators for blocking heat from exhaust pipes. The company received new orders from Toyota for the components and intends to produce them at its plant in Kentucky. For the time being, the plant's existing equipment for producing iron-stamped components will be used to cut down investment to several ten millions of Japanese yen.
Establishes stamped auto body parts plant exclusive for Subaru models jointly with Fukai Mfg.
In April 2014, Toyoda Iron Works and Fukai Mfg. established a JV in Indiana on a fifty-fifty-basis. The new JV, Fukai Toyotetsu Indiana Corp, supplies stamped auto body parts to FHI. JPY 6 billion will be invested to construct a plant equipped with a large transfer press machine, blanking press machine, and welding machine, among others. The plant is scheduled to start operations in March 2016. The company plans to increase the annual production capacity to 400,000 units by FY 2019 and to achieve sales of JPY 9 billion in FY 2020. It also aims to receive orders from Mitsubishi Motors.
Nisshinbo Brake
To start producing copper-free brake pads at end of 2015
At the end of 2015, Nisshinbo Brake will start producing copper-free brake pads, using non-asbestos organic, a friction material that contains no steel fibers. The company will start the production at Nisshinbo Automotive Manufacturing, Inc. in Georgia and plans to supply 10,000 units per month to U.S. automakers. The move is to comply with the regulation on the use of copper to be enacted in California and to meet growing demand for copper-free friction materials.
Nishikawa Rubber
Third plant to start operations in July 2015
Nishikawa Rubber will establish the third plant of Nishikawa Cooper LLC in Indiana in the southeast of its main plant. The company will acquire or lease a new plant and start operations in July 2015. The plant will produce weather strips by final-finishing rubber interim products produced at the main plant. Investment is expected to reach JPY 500 million.
NHK Spring
To raise investment funds for North America by issuing U.S. dollar-based bonds
In September 2014, NHK Spring announced that it will issue U.S. dollar-based convertible bonds to raise USD 100 million. By December 2015, the procured funds will be appropriated to capital expenditures in North America and development funds for next-generation lightweight coil springs. Out of the total capital expenditures, USD 65 million will be invested in its four U.S. subsidiaries and USD 14 million in its Mexican subsidiary.
Nittan Valve
Enhances annual engine valve production capacity to 80 million units
In October 2014, Nittan Valve added production equipment to its joint plant in South Carolina, U.S Engine Valve. The expansion increased the number of production lines at the plant to 22 in total and the annual production capacity for engine valves from 60 million units to 80 million units. The plant, however, can actually produce 90 million units so that it can meet the maximum demand in North America. In the long run, the plant is expected to cover exports to Central and South America as well.
NSK
Installing additional production lines to increase production of EPS systems
NSK plans to increase its global production volume of EPS systems in FY 2015 by 7% y/y to 9.1 million units. To achieve this goal, the company is installing additional production lines at its plants in the U.S., China, and Thailand. In addition, NSK is promoting local production of screw gears, electronic control units, and other components in each country to improve its profitability. The company plans to invest JPY 12 billion within FY 2014.
Japan Polypropylene
Expands capacity to produce polypropylene compounds
In November 2014, Japan Polypropylene expanded the annual capacity to produce polypropylene compounds at Mytex Polymers US Corporation in Indiana from 73,000 tons to 93,000 tons. The compounds are used to produce bumpers and instrument panels.
Panasonic
Sets up new company to produce lithium-ion battery cells
In October 2014, Panasonic established a new company for manufacturing lithium-ion battery cells in Nevada. The new company, Panasonic Energy Corporation of North America, was capitalized at USD 5 million. Panasonic will install production equipment gradually within a 555,000-square-meter plant to be built in Nevada by Tesla Motors in California. The investment amount is still under consideration. Panasonic intends to use a half of the plant to produce battery cells under its own brand and the rest to produce parts for battery modules and packs required by other major suppliers. By 2020, Tesla plans to invest up to USD 5 billion in the new plant. The plant is expected to annually produce lithium-ion batteries for 500,000 electric vehicles as well as battery cells that deliver 35 GW/h of electricity and battery packs that generate 50 GW/h.
Piolax
Starts local production of metal fastening parts
In 2014, Piolax transferred production of precision springs from Piolax Corporation in Georgia to Piolax Mexicana S.A. de C.V. in Mexico. To the newly available space in the U.S., the company introduced production equipment for metal clamp components. Piolax shifted from import of the metal clamp components from Japan to local production in autumn 2014. The production capacity corresponds to sales of JPY 500 million to JPY 600 million per year. By procuring all components locally, the company aims to reduce costs by 20% compared to importing them.
Hitachi Automotive Systems
Expands plant to increase production capacity for EPS systems
In June 2014, Hitachi Automotive Systems completed the construction of a third building at the Georgia plant of Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, Inc. USD 80 million was invested in the construction. The new building was built to produce EPS systems and variable-displacement pumps. Full-scale mass production is scheduled to start in 2016. The first and second buildings are producing valve timing control systems and propeller shafts.
Furukawa Electric
Planning to establish aluminum harness plant
By FY 2020, Furukawa Electric plans to establish a new plant in North America for producing aluminum alloy-based wire harnesses, which help reduce vehicle weight. At present, the company has one subsidiary in North America, American Furukawa Inc. in Michigan, which sells, designs, and develops electric components and wire harnesses.
Howa Textile Industry
Establishing third molded headliner plant in U.S.
Howa Textile Industry is establishing its third U.S. molded headliner plant in Mississippi. JPY 500 million is being invested in the plant. The plant will start operations in October 2015. Products will be supplied to Nissan, which the company has received new orders.
Mitsui Chemicals
Expanding production capacity at PP compound plant; also planning to establish new PP plant
Mitsui Chemicals is enhancing the annual production capacity at its polypropylene (PP) compound plant in Ohio, Advanced Composites, Inc., by 13.8% from the FY 2013 level to 289,000 tons by the end of 2014. In 2018, the company also plans to establish a new PP plant outside Japan, most likely in the U.S. The plant will produce Mostron-L, which has been selected by Nissan for back door components on SUVs. Mitsui Chemicals aims to establish a capacity to produce 30,000 tons annually by 2020.
Mitsubishi Rayon
To double carbon fiber production capacity
Mitsubishi Rayon will enhance the carbon fiber production equipment at Mitsubishi Rayon Carbon Fiber and Composites, Inc. in California. The company will install additional equipment with an annual production capacity of 2,000 tons at the Sacramento plant and start operations in mid 2016. The expansion will double the annual production capacity to 4,000 tons. The company decided on the expansion because of growing demand for carbon fiber reinforced pressure vessels for fuel tanks. In the future, the company also expects demand to increase for high-pressure hydrogen gas fuel tanks on fuel cell vehicles as well as for storage tanks at hydrogen stations.
Mitsuchi
Expanding production equipment for industrial fasteners
Mitsuchi is introducing new forging equipment to Mitsuchi Corporation of America in Tennessee and will start operations in April 2016. The plant is now producing industrial fasteners, such as pins and bolts, for automobiles. The expansion is being made to meet increasing orders from its customer, a parts supplier. The company plans to increase its sales in the U.S. from JPY 707 million in the fiscal year ended in June 2014 to JPY 1 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2016.
Meiwa Industry
Starts operations at plastic sheet plant
In October 2014, Meiwa Industry started operations at the plant of Meiwa Industry North America, Inc. in Tennessee. This is the company's first plant in the U.S. and JPY 1.3 billion was invested in the plant. The plant produces plastic sheets used in trunks and other places. Initially, the company planned to install one production equipment, but later decided to install a second one because of strong orders. The second equipment is expected to start operations in summer 2015. In February 2015, Meiwa opened a sales office in Michigan, Michigan Sales Office. In addition to supplying products to Japanese OEMs, the new office is trying to win orders from U.S. automakers as well.
Univance
Constructing third plant building to increase production of pulleys and transfer cases
Univance is constructing a third building within the premises of Univance Inc. in Kentucky. Operations at the building will start in spring 2015 to increase production of CVT pulleys and AWD transfer cases. JPY 600 million is being invested in the construction. CVT pulleys are supplied to Honda's local plants and Univance started supplying them from June 2014 at an annual scale for 200,000 vehicles. In FY 2015, the figure will be increased at an annual scale for 250,000 vehicles. Transfer cases are supplied to Nissan's plants in North America. In FY 2015, the annual capacity will be increased by 30% y/y for 200,000 units.
Unipres
Restructures production operations in North America as plant in Alabama starts operations
In October 2014, Unipres started operations at Unipres Alabama, Inc. The Alabama plant was transferred as a sheet metal business from a supplier in the Honda group, Yachiyo Industry. The plant can produce components for 150,000 vehicles annually. Following this transfer, production of stamped parts for Honda at its plant in Tennessee was consolidated to the Alabama plant to improve efficiency. Instead, the Tennessee plant is enhancing production of components for Nissan. The plant has an annual production capacity for 500,000 vehicles. In the U.S., Unipres started operating the 2,500-ton transfer press and 600-ton blanking press by December 2014.
The Yokohama Rubber
Considers constructing passenger car tire plant in premises of under construction plant in Mississippi
The Yokohama Rubber considers constructing a passenger car tire plant in the premises of an under construction plant in Mississippi for truck and bus tires. The final decision will be made by the end of FY 2017, the last year of its mid-term management plan. The company has been lacking in capacity to supply relatively large-sized passenger car tires, such as for SUVs.
Yorozu
To construct new plant in southern U.S. and will start operations in 2017
Yorozu will construct a new plant in the U.S., probably in a southern state, such as Georgia and Alabama. The plant will cover the whole process from stamping to assembly and have an annual capacity for 300,000 vehicles. The company will introduce a 3,000-ton class large press machine to process high-tensile materials in the future. In addition to meet an increase in local production by Nissan, its major customer, Yorozu plans to expand sales to Toyota, Honda, and VW as well.

 

 



U.S.: Business enhancement and acquisition by Ube Industries, Kasai Kogyo, and others

 

Company Activities
Ube Industries
Converts lithium-ion battery electrolyte JV into its subsidiary
In January 2015, Ube Industries announced that it had converted Advanced Electrolyte Technologies LLC (AET) in Michigan into its subsidiary. AET used to be a fifty-fifty JV with The Dow Chemical Company, a U.S. company that manufactures and sells electrolytes for lithium-ion secondary batteries. Ube Industries aims to expand its businesses by unifying and strengthening battery material operations with AET. In particular, the company intends to meet growing demand for electrolytes for automotive applications, such as hybrid and electric vehicles.
MC Systems
Acquires anti-corrosion treatment company to start operations in North America
In September 2014, MC Systems announced that it had acquired Michigan Metal Coatings from Nippon Oil & Fats Corporation. The company expects sales of JPY 1 billion in FY 2015 from anti-corrosion treatment operations for parts, such as bolts, nuts, and springs, to be supplied to Japanese and U.S. automakers operating in North America.
Kasai Kogyo
Relocating headquarters of M-TEK and constructing new building; to be engaged in management over North America as well
Kasai Kogyo is relocating the headquarters of M-TEK in Tennessee from Manchester city to Murfreesboro city. The company is investing JPY 1.5 billion to construct a new building, which is expected to be completed in August 2016. In addition to the conventional headquarters functions, Kasai Kogyo aims to enhance management functions in North America (the U.S. and Mexico), where its operations are expanding. The company also intends to reinforce its management so that it will completely cover operations from research and development (R&D) to manufacturing of interior parts.
JVC Kenwood
Unifies two U.S. sales companies
In October 2014, JVC Kenwood announced that JVC Americas Corp. in New Jersey and Kenwood U.S.A. Corporation in California had been merged into JVCKenwood USA Corporation in California. The merger was made to improve business management efficiency and accelerate sales expansion. In the company's car electronics segment business, the sales and marketing teams under both "JVC" and "Kenwood" brands had already been consolidated into California. The new merger represents integration in terms of capital as well.
Tachi-S
Converts JVs with Lear of U.S. into its wholly owned subsidiaries
In April 2014, Tachi-S announced that it will change the shareholding ratio in its four JVs with Lear of the U.S. Among the four, the company converted Thai and American JVs into its wholly-owned subsidiaries to accelerate customer support. Tacle Seating U.S.A. LLC is being renamed to Tachi-S Automotive Seating U.S.A. LLC, which is located in Tennessee.
Central Automotive Products
Considers establishing new sales company
Central Automotive Products is planning to set up a new overseas sales company for automotive repair parts. In addition to its existing office in Detroit, the company considers establishing an additional sales company outside Japan.
TS Tech
Expanding building of American headquarters to enhance sales and development functions
By the end of 2014, TS Tech is doubling the floor area of its American headquarters in Ohio, TS Tech Americas, Inc., to 10,000 square meters. The company is also increasing its workers to reinforce sales and development functions in the Americas.
Denki Kagaku Kogyo
Signs agreement with DuPont on takeover of CR business
In December 2014, Denki Kagaku Kogyo announced that it had signed an agreement to take over, together with Mitsui & Co., chloroprene rubber (CR) manufacturing and sales business from DuPont. CR is a raw material for wipers and adhesives and features a high resistance against weather, oil, and flame. The acquisition requires approval from relevant authorities and the company aims to conclude the deal in the first half of 2015. JPY 10 billion to 14 billion is expected to be paid for the acquisition. After the conclusion, the company will have its first overseas base for CR and a new company will be established with Denki Kagaku Kogyo, owning 70% of the shares, and Mitsui & Co., owning 30% of the shares.
Hitachi Metals
Acquires leading brake casting manufacturer, Waupaca Foundry
In November 2014, Hitachi Metals announced that it had acquired all shares in Waupaca Foundry, Inc. in Wisconsin to convert it into its subsidiary. USD 1.3 billion was paid for the acquisition. Waupaca is the world's largest casting manufacturer and produces components, such as for truck brakes. Besides GM, its products are being supplied also to construction and agricultural machine manufacturers. Waupaca has six plants in North America, which can produce 1.57 million tons annually in total. Through the acquisition, Hitachi Metals aims to expand its business fields to become the world's largest iron casting supplier.
The Yokohama Rubber
Unifies two industrial product subsidiaries to establish new company
In September 2014, The Yokohama Rubber announced that it had merged two U.S. subsidiaries, YH America and SAS Rubber Company, to establish a new company, Yokohama Industries Americas Inc. in Kentucky. YH America had been engaged in assembly and sales of automotive hoses, manufacturing and sales of automotive windshield sealants, and sales of other industrial products. SAS Rubber used to manufacture and sell automotive hoses and other industrial products. The Yokohama Rubber expects the merger to accelerate its business expansion.

 

 



U.S.: Reinforcement of R&D centers by H-One, Daido Metal, Nippon Seiki, and others

 

Company Activities
H-One
To establish new R&D center in urban area within FY 2015
Within FY 2015, H-One plans to establish a new R&D center near Columbus, Ohio. To support local development expansion by Honda in North America, the new center will be equipped with equivalent or more functions to/than the equivalent center in Japan. H-One will spinoff the product development division from KTH Parts Industries, Inc. in Ohio and establish the new R&D center in an urban area so that it can easily attract young engineers. The new center will also be engaged in wider areas of development, such as aluminum and composite materials. These materials have been attracting a lot of attention among U.S. automakers.
Daido Metal
Planning to establish technical center in U.S.
Following the establishment of a technical center in Europe in 2014, Daido Metal is planning to establish another technical center in the U.S. The company is also planning to increase its R&D costs.
Nippon Seiki
To double number of engineers at U.S. development center
In September 2014, Nippon Seiki announced that it will double the number of engineers at N.S. International, Ltd. in Michigan from 100 to 200. The company will develop complete local design and development functions at this center, including laboratory and prototyping functions, which are currently supported by Japan. Nippon Seiki expects the expansion to enable the company to respond to customer needs more promptly, propose high-quality technical services, and achieve sustainable growth.
Bridgestone
Completes construction of process research center for guayule, natural rubber source
In September 2014, Bridgestone's subsidiary, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, held an opening ceremony for its new process research center in Arizona. The new center, Biorubber Process Research Center, was established to process and research guayule, a plant that contains natural rubber. Since 2015, the center has started R&D of processing technologies to extract natural rubber from guayule and test production of natural rubber. The company aims for its commercialization in the 2020s with more than 30 researchers and technicians.
The Yokohama Rubber
Planning to establish tire development center
By the end of the fiscal year ending in December 2017, The Yokohama Rubber plans to newly establish a tire development center in the U.S. The center will mainly be engaged in the development of replacement tires. Particular emphasis will be placed on all-season tires, which have been highly demanded in the market.

 

 



Canada: Activities of Tokai Carbon, Yachiyo Industry, and Futaba Industrial

 

Company Activities
Tokai Carbon
Acquires Canadian carbon material manufacturer to turn it into its subsidiary
In April 2014, Tokai Carbon acquired all outstanding shares in a Canadian automotive carbon material manufacturer in Alberta, Cancarb Limited. The company paid JPY 18 billion for the acquisition and converted it into its subsidiary. Tokai Carbon aims to enhance its profitability by utilizing Cancarb's sales network in Canada.
Howa Textile Industry
To construct its first plant in Canada for molded headliners
In the latter half of 2015, Howa Textile Industry will establish a new plant to produce molded headliners in Ontario. The company will invest JPY 1 billion in this plant, which will be its fourth plant in North America. Initially, the plant will supply products to Honda, but the company aims to win orders from a wide range of automakers in the medium-term.
Yachiyo Industry
Sells all businesses of its Canadian subsidiary to local company; discontinues its sheet metal businesses in North America
In June 2014, Yachiyo Industry sold all businesses of Yachiyo of Ontario Manufacturing, Inc. to a local company in Ontario, Matcor-Matsu Group of Companies. In March 2014, the company also announced that it will sell its sheet metal business of Yachiyo Manufacturing Of Alabama, LLC to Unipres (as described above). Due to these sellouts, the company's sheet metal business in North America was discontinued and have allowed the company to focus its management resources on its main products, resin fuel tanks and sunroofs.
Futaba Industrial
Constructs stamping building at Canadian plant to achieve integrated production
Futaba Industrial constructed a stamping building at the plant of F.I.O Automotive Canada Corp in Ontario. The plant produces exhaust pipes, mufflers, and body components. The new facility started operations at the end of 2014. JPY 2.7 billion was invested in this project. Previously, stamped components had been supplied from another plant in Illinois and assembled at this plant. With newly established integrated production functions, the company aims to reduce costs and increase production capacity.

Sources: Press releases by each supplier and newspapers

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